TechTalk at Google tomorrow

by Eszter Hargittai on January 29, 2007

I will be presenting in the TechTalk series at Google tomorrow.

    Google TechTalks are designed to disseminate a wide spectrum of views on topics including Current Affairs, Science, Medicine, Engineering, Business, Humanities, Law, Entertainment, and the Arts.

Interesting list, where do I fit in?

The title of my talk is “Beyond Gigs of Log Data: The Social Aspects of Internet Use”. I will be talking about the importance of social science research in gaining a better understanding of how and why people use digital media. That is, while companies like Google may have unbelievable amounts of information about their users based on logs of their online actions, I argue that there are other factors difficult to capture in logs that are also important to understanding how and why people use various online services the way that they do.

From Google’s perspective, I think one puzzle concerns the following. Despite being a media darling and getting a ton of positive press coverage over the years, other than search and ads, the company hasn’t gained significant market share in any realm. Even in search, how is it that they are only used by about half of all searchers with the kind of attention they get? (I actually have answers to this, my point here is that some people don’t seem to take a sufficiently nuanced approach to how the company’s products are doing.) And of course, search and ads are very important areas, but if Google thought that was enough, the company wouldn’t be expanding to other realms. It is expanding, but not very successfully.
[click to continue…]

Malcolm Saville

by Harry on January 29, 2007

I was a late reader, only really mastering the basics as I approached 8, by that time having been designated a dullard by most of my teachers (reasonably enough given that I also couldn’t tie my shoelaces or put on my clothes, and spent a lot of time staring aimlessly into space). So I missed most of Enid Blyton’s books for little kids (you know, the racist ones (but also scroll down this page)). But I read almost every single one of her books for older kids (you know, the sexist and class-ridden ones) – the Famous Five, the Secret Seven, the Adventurous Four, the Adventure Books, the Mystery books, the R books, even, oddly, Mallory Towers (for some reason I spurned the St. Clare’s books, even though they must have been almost exactly the same as the Mallory Towers books).

And I never once, in my whole childhood, read a word by Malcolm Saville.

[click to continue…]


by Henry Farrell on January 29, 2007

Dan Drezner looks at the “FT”: and “wonders”: why economists are debating whether the euro might become the world’s reserve currency at the same time that EU citizens say that they don’t much like it. Perhaps some of the answer lies in the different priorities of citizens and central bank economists, as described in another FT article “on the same topic”:

But the results at least offer the European Central Bank comfort on one front: expectations of inflation-beating wage rises are not widespread. Just under half of adults in employment across the countries surveyed expect to receive a pay rise this year. Of those expecting a pay rise, roughly 23 per cent expect a rise above the rate of inflation but 24 per cent expect an increase below the rate. … Fears about inflationary pressures from the labour market are a main reason why the ECB has signalled further interest rate rises are likely.

This suggests that under 11.5% of citizens in the countries surveyed expect that their pay will increase in real terms this year (this at the same time, by the way, that London City types are “writing op-eds”: telling readers how “we can all profit from million dollar City bonuses.”) Wage-inflation spirals how are ya. While the average punter may not draw the precise causal connections between (a) the institutionalized imperative for the European Central Bank to avoid inflation at all costs and (b) high interest rates and slow growth, he wouldn’t be all wrong to suspect that there’s something decidedly funny about the ECB’s priorities in setting monetary policy for the euro.